Sherman Ave Interviews: Renee Engeln-Maddox (Part 2 of 2)

30 Sep

Earlier this summer, Sherman Ave editors Ross Packingham and Sir Edward Twattingworth III interviewed Psychology professor and Allison Hall live-in Renee Engeln-Maddox at Sherman Ave Headquarters.  If any cultural references seem slightly out of date, it’s because that’s what happens when we decide to wait to publish interviews for three months due to reasons.

Read Part 1 here.

The professor who will forever be remembered as "the one who couldn't remember twerk or flabongo."

The professor who will forever be remembered as “the one who couldn’t remember twerk or flabongo.”


Packingham: When someone asks you what courses you teach, do you ever just go, “Intro to SIIIIIIKE!” and punch them in the genitals?


Renee: If I’d thought of it…

Twattingworth: Follow-up, will you start doing that now?

Renee: Do I have to punch them? Cause that could hurt my back. What about like a kick? Or a knee? And I’d have to do the “SIIIIIIKE!” better than that. You need to get the “IIIIIIIII” a little higher.

Twattingworth: How easy do you think it would be to use classical conditioning to train a chimpanzee to be a bartender? I’m asking for a friend.

Packingham: The chimpanzee may or may not be named Morty.

Renee: [horrified laughter] I think you’d use operant conditioning.

Packingham: What do you think Pavlov would have to say about the prevalence of puppy gifs on the Internet?

Renee: I always thought it was GUIFs!

Packingham: It’s GIFs.

Twattingworth: The guy just announced recently…

Renee: But JIF peanut butter is J-I-F…G-I-F, throw a T on the end and it’s GIFT. Not JIFT.

Packingham: Even though the G stands for Graphic.

Renee: I reject the question on the basis of pronunciation.

Packingham: Alright, well for some reason we have two Pavlov questions, so I’ll ask the other one. Do you think Pavlov had a cat that he just, like, kept in the basement and never talked to?

Renee: Why wouldn’t he talk to his cat?

Twattingworth: Because he wouldn’t drool at bells. LIKE AN IDIOT. [silence] Umm, ANYWAY. You’ve done extensive research on “fat talk,” I understand– the behavior of women to engage in disparaging conversations about their bodies. Have you done any research on a similar phenomenon known as “frat talk,” the behavior of men to discuss the relative merits of drinking Natty Light?

Renee: What are the relative merits of drinking Natty Light?

Packingham: There are none.

Twattingworth [simultaneously]: $12.99 at D&D.

Renee: So did you guys just do frat talk? That’s not what I thought frat talk would be like.

Twattingworth: What did you think it would be? [Editors’ note: this is called a follow-up question! Thanks Medill!!!!!]

Renee: I thought it would be like talking about working out. Like fat talk, but a little different.

Packingham: In your Intro to Psych class you talked about group dynamics and how it affects decision making. We were wondering actually–

Twattingworth: [begins pouring shots out of a bottle of Skol]

Renee [aghast]: Are you gonna start drinking now?!

Packingham: Yeah, a bunch of us are going to go drink on the Lakefill, do you want to come with? It’ll be really fun, there’ll be a bunch of people. Everyone’s going.

Packingham: Literally everyone. And then we’re gonna go jump off a cliff.

Renee: Um. Are you both 21? I’ll card you.

Packingham: We are both 21 actually. And you bartended so you know how to tell a real ID.

Twattingworth: So we were at Pride last weekend [like we said, this interview happened MONTHS ago] and we saw lots of people in slutty prisoner costumes, and even more in slutty cop costumes. Do you think the LGBT community was trying to recreate the Zimbardo prison experiment?

Renee: Were they slutting it up at the Zimbardo prison experiment? I didn’t think Zimbardo was a slut. People say a lot about him, but I didn’t think that was part of it.

Twattingworth: Well didn’t he marry the grad student on that experiment?

Renee: That is so common I can’t even give the half of how many psychologists do that. Well Colbert interviewed Zimbardo. So some people know about it. So that’s probably what they were doing, they were really focused on education, then.

Twattingworth: Definitely.

Packingham: We want to do a quick experiment on you, actually. It’s kind of weird, there’s a family of squirrels that lives in our window sill. So we’re trying to use shock therapy to teach them sign language. And so we’re just going to have you press this button every time the squirrel screws up the sign language. And please don’t stop until we tell you, no matter how loud the squealing is. They squeal a lot.

Twattingworth: Like, it’ll be fine. It gets up to deadly voltage, but they’ll be fine.

Renee: That’s all fine, but I don’t think you know what an experiment is.

Packingham: You don’t need to worry about the details.


Renee: Squirrels, not bunnies though, right?

Packingham: Oh god, NEVER bunnies.

Twattingworth: Moving on, I understand that Freud did a lot of cocaine. Do all psychologists do a lot of cocaine?

Renee: In our department, maybe 50%. Cocaine is so 80s.

Twattingworth: It’s all about Molly now.

Renee: It’s all about what?

Twattingworth: What?

Packingham: Speaking of Freud —

Twattingworth: Wait can you write perscriptions?

Renee: NO!

Twattingworth: Just thought I’d check.

Packingham: If Freud we’re hired — somehow, in some universe — at Hallmark to write Mother’s Day cards, what do you think some examples of those might be?

Renee: Dear Mom, you’re really pretty and I can’t stop thinking about you.

Twattingworth: Wait, that’s what I wrote for my Mother’s Day card. Shit.

Renee: Aw.

Twattingworth: Okay, so I’ve heard about lucid dreaming and all, but what about putrid dreaming? Because I had a dream the other night where I literally just–

[breaks into hysterics]


Renee: Were you guys drunk when you wrote this questions?

Packingham: I wrote these at work today…


Packingham: I had a dream the other night where I literally just ate rotting flesh, and it was good, I mean not good, but kind of like Allison’s pizza, which is bad my food standards, but passable by rotting flesh standards. This isn’t even a question.

Renee: You do need psychoanalysis.

Packingham: Back to Freud. He once referred to America as a giant mistake. So at the end of the day, isn’t he really just a motherfucker?

Renee: Yeah.

Twattingworth: Do you get it?

Renee: Yeah.

Twattingworth: She got it.

Renee: It wasn’t funny…

Packingham: Yes it was. So Sir Twattingworth here, he does this thing where he sets his alarm for 3 hours before he wakes up in the morning.

Renee: Oh I HATE THAT.

Packingham: Because he thinks that it will reset his REMs. It’s really annoying.


Packingham: Could you please just tell him that the science is incorrect so he stops doing it?

Renee: It is so absolutely wrong and it’s so irritating! WHY WOULD YOU — not really three hours though.

Packingham: Three hours.

Renee: That’s even stupider! Why —

Twattingworth: If this is some veiled criticism of me, I won’t hear it and I won’t respond to it.

Renee: Bad for your brain, bad for your roommates. One of these days they’re just going to hit you.

Packingham: Happens every day.

Renee: Even snoozing is stupid.

Packingham: What’s wrong with snoozing?

Renee: Because you’re not getting any good sleep.

Twattingworth: It’s not about the quality of sleep, it’s just how easy it is to get up.

Packingham: It’s just like psychology.

Twattingworth: You might not understand it.

Packingham: So in Intro to Psych you have a lecture where you talk about memory by showing how people can use different strategies to memorize words. So we want to put you to the test. We have a sheet of paper with 12 words written on it. You’ll get to look through it for 60 seconds, then we’ll take it away from you and ask you to recite back as many words as you can.

Renee: I feel like these words aren’t going to be appropriate.

Packingham: They’re mostly appropriate, but you’d only be able to find probably two of them in the Oxford English Dictionary. You ready? Begin.

[Renee giggles as she reads the list]

Packingham: Five seconds.

Twattingworth: Aaaand time.

Packingham: Alright, go!

Renee: Okay. Cristianoronaldo. Um, hefeweizen. Pulchritudinous. Bieber. Skol. Leg. Crayola. Uh, honori…fi…camus?

Packingham: Honorificamus, yes.

Renee: Is that a word?

[Packingham shrugs]

Renee: Reconstructionistic. Um, how many am I missing?

Packingham: Three.

Renee: Um…Franzia! That’s all I can remember.

Packingham: You did pretty well! You missed flabongo —

Renee: Because it’s not a word.

Twattingworth: It is a word. It’s a flamingo that’s been cut to make a bong.

Renee: Oh?

Twattingworth: Bust that out in class, people will relate to that.

Renee: Flabongo! Do you have one?

Packingham: Um…

Twattingworth: He fucked it up.

Renee: Did you break it?

Twattingworth: No, do you see those tiny pink things over there? He ordered the first flamingo he saw on Amazon —

Packingham: The cheapest.

Renee: Never order the cheapest option on Amazon.

Twattingworth: It’s way too small.

Renee: What else, did I miss another word?

Twattingworth: Twerk.

Packingham: Flabongo and twerk were the words you missed.

Renee: Twerk! Oh yeah, and I was totally imagining Justin Bieber. Isn’t twerk a dance?

Twattingworth: It is, hopefully he has never done it.

Renee: Someone told me on the way here, I had dinner with a friend, and she said, “You know, they asked Saul Morson about twerking.” And I didn’t know what twerking was, and she was like, “Go look it up.”

Packingham: Look up “how to twerk” on Youtube and you’ll have everything you need to know.

Renee: Am I going to be really embarrassed?

Twattingworth: You’ll be horrified.

Renee: Well Saul Morson didn’t know either, so I’m good.

Packingham: He also didn’t know who Ross and Rachel are on Friends, so all bets are off there.

Twattingworth: Alright, so we’re going to do this new test, it’s called the Rohrschach test. I actually created it. We’ve got a few inkblots we’re going to show you, and please just tell us what you see in the inkblot.

Packingham: There’s no correct answer, everyone says something different.

Twattingworth: Here’s the first one.

Renee: Morty.

Packingham: Here’s the next one.

Renee: That’s Annie, right? When I was little my grandmother made me wear an Annie dress. It was awful. Everyone would sing that song.

Twattingworth: It’s really awkward because you’re calling your kid an orphan.

Renee: Yeah.

Twattingworth: Here’s the next inkblot.

Renee: Thirsty…

Packingham: And then there’s this.

Renee: What is that?!

Twattingworth: It’s Fusilli Jerry from Seinfeld. Kramer makes the statue out of him.

Renee: You guys were like seven then. I feel like I’m losing all your games.

Twattingworth: To be fair, they’re unwinnable.

Packingham: Alright, so this is the last game. Straight up word association. We say a word and you tell us the first thing that comes to your mind. Phyllis.

Renee: Diller.

Twattingworth: That’s someone’s name but I can’t remember who it is.

Renee: Me neither. Are you looking up who it is?

Packingham: Let me see here…


Packingham: Pornstar.

Renee: WHAT?!

Packingham: She was a comedienne.

Twattingworth: Ronald Reagan.


Twattingworth: We know you’re a psychologist, you’re not allowed to like him.

Renee: Well, you know. Actor.

Packingham: Ross Geller.

Renee: Rachel.

Twattingworth: Hotel Orrington.

Renee: Martinis.

Packingham: Taco Bell?

Renee: No.

Twattingworth: Green Street.

Renee: Bars!

Packingham: Kim Kardashian.

Renee: Ugh.

Twattingworth: Urbana.

Renee: Champaign.

Packingham: Friday.

Renee: Good?

Packingham: So you’re religious!

Renee: …right.

Twattingworth: So I noticed in your last lecture that you didn’t spend any time —

Renee: You weren’t there!

Twattingworth: Just go with it. You didn’t spend any time explaining how best to throw condoms in professors’ backyards.

Renee: You know, that guy was not even really a professor. Did you read that article?

Twattingworth: Yeah!

Packingham: Do you know where he lives? RIGHT ACROSS FROM US.

Renee: Do you guys throw condoms in his backyard?!

Twattingworth: Maybe three times a week, tops. Like, nothing excessive.

Renee: Here’s the thing. One, you shouldn’t throw condoms in peoples’ backyards, but two, if you want to live on campus, you have to be willing to accept at least a moderate amount of nonsense.

Packingham: And this is Northwestern. If this guy goes to Bloomington…

Renee: Any time I hear people in Evanston complain about Northwestern, I’m like, you have no idea. In Champaign, it’s like Dillo Day every day. Plus, if you want to sell your house, it’s not very good for the property values to have it be on widespread media that there’s condoms in your backyard. Were they used?

Twattingworth: That’s what he said. It’s a little gross. I can ALMOST understand being annoyed with that.

Renee: Do you think he has those little trash picker-uppers?

Packingham: He just flings them into the next yard. Other question about Last Lecture: you didn’t tell them they’d all be able to find jobs, did you? Because, you know, Obama.

Renee: Actually, I think I told them that the universe was going to shit on their dreams.

Packingham: I’ve never heard of that astronomical phenomenon.

Renee: Well you haven’t graduated yet!

Packingham: That’s true. I’ll get back to you on that one.

Twattingworth: You teach class in Swift, right?

Renee: Sometimes!

Twattingworth: Honestly, how often do you just end up in Annie Mae Swift on accident?

Renee: Um. Once or twice.

Packingham: We once asked Morty if he had ever been on the roof of Swift and he said “No, what’s up there?” and we said, “A carnival.”

Twattingworth: And then we told him that was where The Keg had relocated. So he might just assume that we were lying about the whole thing.

Renee: Well there wasn’t really a carnival…

Packingham: I mean.


Packingham: So, you’ve lived in Allison for two years now. What’s your secret to getting those really good housing numbers?

Renee: Bribes and threats.

Twattingworth: But don’t you think it’s a bit strange that you’re the live-in faculty at Allison, while the live-in faculty at Sargent is a cockroach named Rob?

Renee [laughing]: Is the cockroach’s apartment nicer than mine?

Packingham: I mean it’s in Sargent, so it’s physically impossible.

Renee: Diversity. This campus cares about diversity.

Packingham: So I actually lived – not this last year, but the year before last – I lived in Allison.

Renee: Why didn’t you come back?

Packingham: Because I wanted to live somewhere I could drink more openly.

Renee: Ah.

Packingham: Anyway, so I lived in Allison, and literally every week I would ask for munchies from EV1 and they never came through.

Renee: I went into EV1 for the first time last week and discovered it was a liquor store. I always thought it was a convenience store.

Twattingworth: Well, it is kind of a convenience store for freshmen. Anyway, last time I was in Allison, I was just going down to the dining hall and someone yelled “HEY HEY HEY” at me and I got really scared and ran away. Are there any words of comfort you can offer me?

Renee: “HEY HEY HEY” are the words of comfort! Many students are comforted by those words.

Packingham: They used to terrify me! I would always be like, my Friday isn’t happy any more, you just startled me.

Renee: Man up!

Twattingworth: We do love Ellery, actually.

Renee: And hot cookie bar. It’s disgusting.

Twattingworth: Are you kidding me?

Renee: No! You guys, your standards are so low.

Packingham: What do you have against hot cookie bar? Besides the fact that you’re clearly a communist.

Renee: Besides that, I think if you’re going to have dessert, you should have a good dessert. Not undercooked cookies.

Twattingworth: But they’re hot!

Packingham: So I told you I took Intro to Psych about a year and a half ago —

Renee: Did you learn anything?

Packingham: Yeah! I took it pass/fail and I still learned a lot. I remember Freud, I remember Zimbardo, I remember that scary video where I shit my pants…

Renee: Yes!

Packingham: I was thinking about just like, screaming and trying to scare you and then telling you it was payback, but then I thought it would just make everyone too uncomfortable.

Renee: It would have been awesome. But it’s too late now.

Packingham: So I still have the textbook for Intro to Psych, I never got rid of it. Would you PLEASE buy it from me? $20 or best offer.

Renee: What edition?

Packingham: Third.

Renee: We use fourth now.

Packingham: But the freshmen can use it…?

Twattingworth: Okay, the last thing here, we were hoping you might watch Miley Cyrus’ new music video for We Can’t Stop. Feel free to offer any reactions to what’s happening in front of your face.

[Twattingworth begins playing Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” music video]


Twattingworth: She’s just being Miley!

Renee: UGH.

Twattingworth: Any thoughts? Critiques?

Renee: It just…makes me feel so out of touch with what you people are doing these days.

Twattingworth: I think she’s the only one doing any of that.

Renee: Do you guys twerk?

Packingham: We try.

Twattingworth: A couple hours a day. Nothing serious. We could stop any time.

Packingham: Well that’s all we have, do you have any questions for us?

Renee: That was awful.

Check out our other interviews with NU President Morty Schapiro, famed professor Gary Saul Morson, former NU basketball star Reggie Hearn and others! And remember, if you enjoyed this and other sharticles, then APPLY TO WRITE FOR SHERMAN AVE!!

One Response to “Sherman Ave Interviews: Renee Engeln-Maddox (Part 2 of 2)”


  1. Sherman Ave Interviews: Renee Engeln-Maddox (Part 1 of 2) | Sherman Ave - September 30, 2013

    […] Part 2 here! And remember, if you enjoyed this and other sharticles, then APPLY TO WRITE FOR SHERMAN […]

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